Teamwork and Collaboration – The Secret Sauce to XL Hybrid’s Success
XL Hybrids, the pioneering developer of hybrid electric and plugin hybrid-electric powertrains, was first founded in 2009 by MIT alumni. They became incorporated in 2010, and have been deploying their technology with fleets since 2012.
This company is unique because they’re not building vehicles from the ground up. Instead, they offer aftermarket upfits that can be installed on new or existing vehicles. Those upfits then turn vehicles into hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. What’s even better is that XL Hybrids works in concert with many major OEMs like Ford, General Motors and Isuzu.
“We’re able to bring the benefits of electrification to fleets while leaving the vehicles largely intact with not a lot of major modifications and with the full OEM warranty,” said Clay Siegert, XL Hybrids’ co-founder and chief operating officer.
Back in 2012, XL Hybrids’ first two customers were The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo but only on a test run basis. The XL team had to prove that the technology could not only perform, but perform well.
“Coca-Cola and Pepsi were our first two customers. They gave us a few vehicles each to convert and they said, ’OK, if your technology works, we’ll buy more’,” said Siegert.
Spoiler: their technology worked.
They had successful pilots with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, and by 2013, those companies went into full production with XL’s hybrid solution and have been ordering since.
Siegert credits a portion of XL’s success to its vehicle connectivity technology, XL Link, which is included with every hybrid upfit. XL Link is a telemetry offering that helps to track performance of vehicles in the field, things like: MPG improvement, sustainability improvements, and GHG reduction, as well as XL’s hybrid components to make sure they are operating at peak performance.
“Those two things; using XL Link to provide performance reports to fleets, and being able to track our components in the field have been extremely helpful for us in growing our business, building our reputation with fleets, and building that trust factor which is so important,” he says. “We can be proactive on the customer service front when it comes to any issues in the field, and we can be value added in terms of providing information to the fleets to track a hybrid or plugin hybrid vehicle program.”
As the leading developer and provider of simple, smart, sustainable hybrid electric powertrains, it comes as no surprise that they were ranked in the top 50 of the 2014 World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company.
Siegert says, “We’ve really tried to make it a seamless process to upfit vehicles to hybrid electric and plugin hybrid electric technology.”
A big part of XL’s seamless process are its partners in ship-through upfitting. XL works with companies like Knapheide Manufacturing and Adrian Steel to have XL’s technology installed while a van is getting other upfits installed, such as ladder racks. This turn-key process provides ready-to-use fleet vehicles with little to no problems because all members of the supply chain are working together.
Siegert looks to the future with optimism stating that his goals are to expand the level of understanding and acceptance of connected electric vehicle technology, and to grow the market. Siegert says that increasing the amount of vehicle charging infrastructure in the future will help continue to increase interest in plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Clean Fuels Michigan is excited to continue to dialogue with XL Hybrids and looks forward to improving charging infrastructures for hybrid electric vehicles.